[Coral-List] Study nature, not books [Re: Artificial Reefs]

John McManus jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Tue Oct 12 16:00:10 EDT 2010

I agree with most of what Jason wrote. Coral propagation has importance today, may become an increasingly important remediation tool in the future. 

However, when dealing with an overfishing situation, it is important to keep in mind the primary rule: "never make fish easier to catch."

Most artificial reefs that extend significantly above the bottom tend to attract fish. Within a few weeks to a few months, one typically finds snappers, and groupers of catchable size. However, these catchable adult fish are also generally 2-20 years old. Clearly they did not grow up there. In fact, it is easy to show (see coral-list archives) that it is virtually impossible for even the largest known artificial reefs to maintain any form of reasonable fishery based solely on the fish that grow up there from larval stages. Thus, most no-flat artificial reef structures in overfished areas (including most of the world's reef areas) are adding to existing problems of overfishing -- helping to drive harvested species populations well below 50% of their natural biomasses and often below 30% of these natural amounts.

I would love to see artificial reefs either remaining fairly flat (as with some of the ones in the Florida Keys), or taking on high profiles but within areas in which fishing is effectively prohibited -- fishery reserves. 

For those on the list involved in undergraduate or graduate studies towards ecological careers, I highly recommend taking some courses in fisheries stock analysis. It is often a great revelation to learn that even 'properly managed' fisheries usually involve maintaining substantial reductions in the natural biomasses of key predator species such as snappers and groupers. The impacts of these reductions on coral reef ecosystems are still poorly understood.



John W. McManus, PhD
Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries
Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149
jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu      http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu
 Phone: 305-421-4814   

  "If I cannot build it, I do not understand it."
              --Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Jason Krumholz
Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010 4:53 PM
To: John Cubit; Angélica Batista
Cc: coral-list
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Study nature, not books [Re: Artificial Reefs]

John (et al.),
I don't think there's a single person on Coral-List that would disagree with 
your statement that artificial substrate can never hope to achieve 100% of 
the habitat complexity (and therefore ecosystem value) that natural reef 
provides, and as such, conservation is always a more attractive option than 

However, when viewed in the context of their ability to provide a rapid 
boost to habitat complexity in areas where human activity (e.g. dredging or 
ship groundings) or natural disasters have damaged natural habitat, or in 
situations where fisheries augmentation would displace fishing pressure and 
the associated habitat damage onto artificial substrate rather than natural, 
artificial reefs, particularly designed and purpose built artificial reef 
modules, have a great deal of value when used judiciously.

  (Furthermore, with the above sentence, I hope to lay claim to the 
unofficial Coral-List award for the longest grammaticaly correct sentence 
ever posted.)

Jason Krumholz
Scientific Co-Ordinator
The Reef Ball Foundation
Ph.D. Candidate
University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography
jkrumholz at gso.uri.edu
office: (401) 874-6011
cell: (401) 787-0944
 fax: (401) 874-6613


>  Before being prejudiced by the literature, I suggest you carefully
> examine the structure of the natural reefs at Punta Betin, all the way
> down to the finest details of the biologically-built substratum of the
> reefs and the inhabitants of the substratum.   Looking at the
> centimeter, millimeter, and finer scales, examine the variety of pores,
> laminations, and other topographical/structural complexities that are
> not captured in any standard measures of "rugosity." Examine the biota
> that penetrate the substrata and their dependence on the fine properties
> of the substrata.  Using this reality as your standard, look at pieces
> of concrete, quarried limestone, and other materials used to build
> artificial reefs.  Ask the question, "Do artificial reefs support the
> same range of biological diversity?  Do artificial reefs provide the
> same complex of ecological services provided by natural reefs?"
> Evaluate the published information--and management decisions--accordingly.
> The quote in the subject line is from Louis Agassiz.
> --John
> On 10/7/2010 2:22 PM, Angélica Batista wrote:
>> Dear coral list members,
>> I'm very interested in artificial reefs, its dynamics,the advantages and
>> disadvantages of its use. The knowledge about it, its very important for
>> management of fisheries. Looking for information about that, I found a 
>> lot of
>> interesting papers, but I had troubles getting some of them.  I will be 
>> very
>> grateful if you assist me with obtaining a pdf of the following papers:
>> Artificial Reefs
>> W. Seaman and W.J. Lindberg
>> Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences(Second Edition)
>> Pages 226-233
>> Artificial reefs in Japan — A general outline
>> Jean-Marie Thierry*
>> Aquacultural Engineering
>> Volume 7, Issue 5, 1988, Pages 321-348
>> Marine habitat modification through artificial reefs off the Algarve 
>> (southern
>> Portugal): An economic analysis of the fisheries and the prospects for
>> management
>> David Whitmarsh, Miguel Neves Santos, Jorge Ramos and Carlos Costa 
>> Monteiro
>> Ocean&  Coastal Management
>> Volume 51, Issue 6, 2008, Pages 463-468
>> Artificial reefs: a review of their design, application, management and
>> performance
>> Mark Baine
>> Ocean&  Coastal Management
>> Volume 44, Issues 3-4, 2001, Pages 241-259
>> thanks in advance for your help, best regards
>> Angelica Batista
>> Angelica Ma. Batista-Morales
>> Investigador
>> Línea Organización y Dinámica de Ecosistemas
>> Programa Biodiversidad de Ecosistemas Marinos
>> Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras
>> Direción: Cerro Punta Betín, Santa Marta D.T.C.H.
>> Colombia
>> Tel. (+57) (+5) 4328600 Ext. 281
>> angelica_batista at invemar.org.co
>> www.invemar.org.co
>> Angelica Ma. Batista-Morales
>> Investigador
>> Línea Organización y Dinámica de Ecosistemas
>> Programa Biodiversidad de Ecosistemas Marinos
>> Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras
>> Direción: Cerro Punta Betín, Santa Marta D.T.C..H.
>> Colombia
>> Tel. (+57) (+5) 4380808 Ext. 251
>> Fax. (+57)(+5) 4380801
>> angelica_batista at invemar.org.co
>> www.invemar.org.co
>> ________________________________
>> ¡Obtén la mejor experiencia en la web!
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> -- 
> John Cubit, Ph.D.
> Regional Resource Coordinator, Southwest Region
> NOAA Assessment and Restoration Division, Suite 4470
> 501 W. Ocean Blvd.
> Long Beach, CA 90802
> John.Cubit at noaa.gov
> tel 562 980-4081
> fax 562 980-4084
> Cell phone (for urgent matters and travel contact) 562 810-4949
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